Throughout the Premier League season, Sebastian Noren will provide analysis from the week of games, talking about the good, the bad and the bizarre.
The 15th week of BPL action is over and fans were treated to another round of some great games, some bad games and some bizarre situations. Leicester stays atop the league after beating Chelsea, but Arsenal are right on the Foxes’ heels. Manchester United fell to Bournemouth and Liverpool salvaged late draw against WBA.
Everton Drop Points Against Norwich
What Happened: Everton failed to win for the third straight game in the league as they had to settle for a 1-1 draw against newcomers Norwich City on Saturday. Romelu Lukaku keeps on showing great form as he scored his 12th goal of the season to give Everton the lead in the 15th minute. But a goal from Wes Hoolahan early in the second half secured a much-needed point for Norwich.
Everton are unbeaten in the last six Premier League games, but are coming off three straight draws, which make it tough to gain ground on the teams above them in the table.
Seb’s Take: Everton is playing poorly, but they have been unable to put teams away in the past three games despite creating a lot of good scoring chances. In Lukaku and Ross Barkley they have two top-class players, and now they just need the rest of the team to step up and help them out.
Bournemouth Upset Manchester United
What Happened: Bournemouth grabbed a shocking win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last weekend, and the Cherries followed that up by beating Manchester United 2-1 at home on Saturday after goals by Junior Stanislas and former United prospect Joshua King.
Stanislas gave the home side the lead in the second minute when he whipped a corner that curled into the back of the net. Marouane Fellaini tied the game up in the 24th minute, but like so many times before, United’s dominance in possession failed to yield any results. King scored the winning goal for Bournemouth in the 54th minute to complete the upset.
Seb’s Take: With one loss and two draws in the last three league games, it’s quite remarkable that United is still in contention for the league title. The Red Devils have had a poor run and got knocked out of the Champions League earlier in the week. For Bournemouth, the six points against Chelsea and United are much welcomed as those are “bonus” points that they never thought they would get at the start of the season and it helps them out as they try to avoid relegation.
Cabaye Comes Up Big For Palace
What Happened: Yohan Cabaye was the marquee signing this summer for Crystal Palace and the French midfielder showed his qualities as he scored the only goal of the game in Palace’s 1-0 win over Southampton at Selhurst Park on Saturday. Cabaye made a good run into the penalty area and got on the end of a cross by Yannick Bolasie to score from close range in the 38th minute. Wayne Hennessey had to make a couple of good saves for Palace to keep the clean sheet. The win puts Palace in sixth place.
Seb’s Take: Palace has a very solid team, dotted with some potential game changers. Cabaye has shown time and time again that he’s one of the best signings so far and he has given Palace a sense of calm in the middle of the field. Combine that with crafty players like Bolasie, Wilfried Zaha and Jason Puncheon, and it’s easy see why they are making a push at a Europa League spot.
Late Goal Secures City Win Over Swansea
What Happened: Manchester City looked like they were on they way to drop points for the second straight week, but a late goal by Kelechi Iheanacho secured the win for the Citizens as they beat Swansea 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday. Wilfried Bony scored in the 26th minute to give City the lead.
It looked like they were going to hold on to the 1-0 lead until the end of the game, but Swansea substitute Bafetimbi Gomis came on and scored in the 90th minute. But City got a break when a shot by Yaya Toure in stoppage time deflected off of Iheanacho and into the back of the net.
Seb’s Take: City controlled the game and should have won more comfortably, but it’s wins like this that will be huge at the end of the season. This could be one of those games we look back at and say that it was a key game if City go on and win the title.
Ighalo Scores Again As Watford Beat Sunderland
What Happened: Odion Ighalo has been Watford’s best player so far this season, and he scored his 10th league goal of the season as Watford took a 1-0 win on the road against Sunderland. Ighalo scored in the fourth minute and after that Watford controlled the events and saw the game out for the three points. The newcomers has been impressive, and now sits in seventh place with 25 points, while the other newcomers Bournemouth sit in 14th place and Norwich are in the relegation zone.
Seb’s Take: Troy Deeney and Ighalo makes up the best striker duo in the league right now and they have played a big part in Watford’s success together with a solid defense and good goalkeeping by Heurelho Gomes. The club is enjoying a three-game winning streak.
Scoreless Between West Ham and Stoke
What Happened: Both teams hit the woodwork in the game at the Boleyn Ground on Saturday, but neither team managed to find the back of the net, as West Ham and Stoke City played a scoreless draw. Stoke’s Marko Arnautovic was denied by the crossbar in the 68th minute, and Mauro Zarate hit the post for West Ham in the 82nd minute. West Ham were the closest to getting a winning goal as they had two attempts cleared off the line by Stoke in the dying moments of the game.
Seb’s Take: It’s clear that West Ham were decimated by injuries to key attacking players like Dimitri Payet, Diafra Sakho and Manuel Lanzini. They are still in the race for a Europa League spot as they sit in eighth place, but they will have get back on the winning track soon after three straight draws and only one win in the last seven.
Arsenal Take Care Of Business Against Villa
What Happened: Arsenal took a comfortable 2-0 win on the road against bottom of the league Aston Villa on Sunday. Olivier Giroud keeps on scoring as he gave the Gunners the lead in the seventh minute from the penalty spot after Theo Walcott was taken down. Aaron Ramsey made it 2-0 in the 38th minute to secure the three points. Villa were never close to challenging Arsenal for the points, but manager Remi Garde said after the game that he saw some positives despite the loss.
Seb’s Take: Arsenal keeps pace at the top despite all the injuries, and could become really dangerous when they get personnel back. Giroud scored his ninth league goal of the season and is looking to be in great form.
Origi Salvage Point For Liverpool Against WBA
What Happened: It looked like West Bromwich were going to steal three points from Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday, but a late equalizer by Divock Origi saved a point for the Reds. Liverpool dominated the game and took the lead in the 21st minute through captain Jordan Henderson. Craig Dawson tied the game up in the 30th minute with WBA’s first shot on goal.
Late in the second half, Jonas Olsson shocked the fans at Anfield as he gave WBA the lead after heading in a corner in the 73rd minute. WBA tried to absorb the barrage from Liverpool, but deep into stoppage time Origi managed to get the tying goal for Liverpool.
Seb’s Take: It definitely two points lost for Liverpool when you look at the numbers as the Reds were dominant in both possession and scoring chances, but being down 2-1 deep into added time and being able to get the tying goal, they will feel alright with the result.
Newcastle Upset Tottenham
What Happened: Newcastle manager Steve McClaren made two substitutions that paid dividends in the game against Tottenham as the Magpies turned a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 win after goals by Aleksandar Mitrovic and Ayoze Perez. Tottenham had taken the lead in the 39th minute through a header by Eric Dier.
Tottenham were controlling the action, but the two substitutions made by McClaren changed the game. Mitrovic came on in the 72nd minute, and in the 74th minute he had tied the game up after battling inside the penalty and putting the ball in behind Hugo Lloris from close range. Ayoze Perez came on in the 63rd minute and he scored the winning goal in added time after a beautiful display of control as he took the ball down with his chest and put a volley shot in behind Lloris.
Seb’s Take: Newcastle might have turned the corner after a poor start to the season. The team looks pretty good on paper and shouldn’t be involved in a relegation battle, but they have failed to get things to gel. The Magpies now has two straight wins, beating Liverpool and Tottenham so that might be the start of the turnaround.
Leicester Beat Chelsea To Stay Top Of The League
What Happened: Leicester hosted reigning champions Chelsea on Monday at King Power Stadium, and the Foxes grabbed a 2-1 win to stay top of the league and putting Chelsea just one point over the relegation zone. Jamie Vardy has been on fire this season and gave Leicester the lead in the 34th minute after another clinical finish from inside the penalty area. The goal was Vardy’s 15th goal of the season. Riyad Mahrez was voted man of the match, and he made it 2-0 Leicester early in the second half. He also supplied the assist on Vardy’s opening goal.
Chelsea made things interesting in the final 13 minutes plus added time as Loic Remy scored his first league goal of the season to put Chelsea within one. With the fans roaring them on, Leicester saw out the game and took the three points that puts them back at the top of the table.
Seb’s Take: Leicester has been a great story all season long and the saga continues with this win. Claudio Ranieri and his players should be commended for what they have accomplished so far, and they are now a legit threat. As long as they manage to keep Vardy and Mahrez, which I think they will, and stay healthy, they could challenge. Unlike the other teams in the top five, Leicester don’t have the distraction of European cup competitions.
Chelsea is on the other side of the spectrum, and they are now in a relegation battle.
The Good: Leicester
There are not enough good things you can say about this Leicester side. After having basically the same teams at the top of the table for the past decade, the Foxes has been a breath of fresh air. They have a solid team with a couple of extraordinary players like Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy. Mahrez has been the best player of the season so far in my book, and Vardy is absolutely lethal inside the penalty area.
They might not be able to keep this going until the end of the season, but we should all just enjoy the moment as Leicester plays some very entertaining attacking soccer.
The Bad: Manchester United
Manchester United’s recent form has been extremely poor for a team that is supposed to be battling for titles. The lack of scoring has really shone its ugly face as they got knocked out of the Champions League earlier in the week and then fall 2-1 to newcomers Bournemouth. Sure, they have injury troubles, but so do a lot of other teams. Louis van Gaal is under massive pressure by the fans to get the team scoring.
It’s obvious that van Gaal’s defensive approach isn’t winning over the fans, but as long as they are in the title race, it’s unlikely that he will change his tactics. Look for United to try to go out and get a proven goalscorer in the January transfer window.
The Bizarre: The Liverpool – WBA Referees
West Bromwich defender Jonas Olsson almost got two goals in the game between Liverpool and WBA on Sunday. Right before halftime, with the game at 1-1, WBA had a set piece that Olsson got on the end of and put into the back of the net. After a long discussion between the referees, the goal was waived off for offside. Now, they got the decision right as Olsson was slightly offside when the ball was put into the penalty area, but it took way too long for the refs to come to a conclusion and the linesman didn’t put up his flag initially.